Interesting Interviews

Citizen Trump

After recently discovering a video of Donald Trump discussing Citizen Kane (1941), it reminded me of an encounter I had once with his ex-wife in the South of France.

Just in case you haven’t seen the video with the property mogul and current Republican frontrunner, it was filmed by Errol Morris as part of a wider project that unfortunately never got made.

The prescience and irony is something to behold, especially if you know Citizen Kane well.

It also reminded of a strange incident during the 2007 Cannes film festival, when a friendly PR girl rang me and asked if I wanted to interview someone in a villa amongst the hills above the famous French town.

Not being too busy that night, I agreed, thinking ‘why not?’ and was intrigued as to who this person might be. A director? Producer? Actor?

As the taxi stopped outside the villa, you could almost feel the wealth and decadence in the air: palm trees peeking over walls, lights shooting into the sky and the noisy gaggle of Eurotrash inside.

My PR contact was waiting at the gates with two burly security guards hovering around her. I asked who my interviewee was, and she told me: “Ivana Trump. Donald’s ex-wife”.

Ah…, yes. I vaguely remembered her. She and her (then) husband Donald were quite the celebrity couple throughout the 1980s, widely covered in gossip columns and magazines (including this interesting piece in Spy magazine).

Donald was even referenced cryptically in Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990) and Ivana (post-divorce) even made an appearance in The First Wives Club (1996), with the memorable line: “Remember girls: don’t get mad, get everything.”

After being ushered inside the garden party, I was directed to a path where fellow journalists were gathered and minders made sure they never went near the real action of the party which was covered by a big tent. But I was still scrambling for questions to ask her as just 30 mins earlier I had been in a hotel bar drinking quite heavily.

Then, after a few minutes, she emerged with a handler whose role was unclear, and my short ‘interview’ began (after a female showbiz hack asked who would play her in a movie.

(I come in around the 1 minute mark!):

Nothing revelatory for sure and truth be told, at the time I was not aware that Ivana was a regular showbiz fixture at Cannes (sometimes charitable, often for lines of retail items) and afterwards it remained in my audio archives. After all it was only 1 question and unrelated to film!

However, after seeing her ex-husband Donald wax lyrical on YouTube about Orson Welles’ astonishing film debut, it took me back to Cannes 2007 and how the themes of Citizen Kane endure: money, fame, power and then what?

Like Kane, Donald has amassed a fortune, gone through divorce and is currently running for political office. What lies ahead for this loud, ambitious man who is dominating the Republican primaries?

Will it be The White House or a wrecked childhood nursery?

> Wikipedia on Ivana Trump, Donald Trump and Citizen Kane
> Roger Ebert’s review of Citizen Kane in 1998

Interesting Radio

The Orson Welles Radio Tapes

Orson Welles was the multi-talented polymath who was a pioneering figure in twentieth century theatre and film.

2015 marks the centenary of his birth in Kenosha, Wisconsin and various celebrations have been taking place across the world at festivals and cinema societies.

He is still best known for co-writing and directing Citizen Kane (1941), a landmark in film history, but also made astonishingly audacious stage productions, such as a production of Macbeth in Harlem with an all black cast.

However, it was on radio where he reached national attention in 1938 with his infamous adaptation of H.G. Wells’s novel ‘The War of the Worlds’, which was so convincing it caused widespread panic.

His Mercury Theatre group not only produced acclaimed work on stage but also on the airwaves from 1938-40 and again in 1946, with a stock company of actors including Agnes Moorehead, Joseph Cotten, Ray Collins and Helen Hayes.

Courtesy of the Internet Archive site, here is a selection of his work, which includes literary classics, especially Shakespeare, but also dramas by Thornton Wilder and Noel Coward.


> Shakespeare

The Bard was a pivotal figure in Welles’ career and various abridged productions Welles produced included Hamlet, Twelfth Night, Julius Caesar, The Merchant of Venice, Macbeth, Henry V, Romeo and Juliet, Richard II, Richard III and King Lear.


> Mercury Theater Productions in 1938

If Welles was sadly denied creative control for most of his film career, his radio work was a different story. In 1938 he was given full reign in various adaptations of literary classics, including Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Treasure Island, and The Count of Monte Cristo. The music was by Benard Herrmann, a future collaborator on Citizen Kane.


> Radio Almanac Pt. 1

A mix of comedy, trivia, music and drama, with Agnes Moorehead as president of “the Orson Welles Swoon Club”. Guests include Nat King Cole and Kid Ory.


> Radio Almanac Pt. 2

Before The War of the Worlds made him (in)famous, the 22 year-old prodigy funded his theatrical productions with radio work, including a year playing avenging crimefighter ‘The Shadow’.


> Wartime Broadcasts

A collection of shows made during World War II, including the liberation of Paris, the Fifth War Loan Drive and
GI Journal. A fascinating snapshot of the time, it shows a more serious side to Welles, as well as illuminating a key episode of twentieth century.


> Commentaries

Long before Rupert Murdoch (a modern day Charles Foster Kane) owned the New York Post, Welles was a columnist on the paper and also had a weekly political radio broadcast, covering such topics as the atomic bomb tests, and the blinding of war veteran Isaac Woodard.


> The Bogdanovich Interviews

Director Peter Bogdanovich became a friend of Welles and conducted a series of audio interviews between 1969 and 1970. They discuss his life and career, including the success of Citizen Kane (1941) and later films such as The Lady from Shanghai (1947), Touch of Evil (1958), and Chimes at Midnight (1960). In total this runs to about 4 hours, but is fascinating if you are interested in the filmmaking techniques Welles pioneered and the general arc of his career.


> The Lost Tapes of Orson Welles (BBC World Service Documentary)

Presented by Christopher Frayling, this 2014 documentary was broadcast on the BBC World Service. It explores audio of the conversations Welles had with his friend Henry Jaglom from 1983-85 and explores his life and career. Contributors include Welles biographer Simon Callow and film writer Peter Biskind.


> Find more about Orson Welles at Wikipedia
> WellesNet – A great resource for fans and aficionados

Archive Interesting Podcast

Frank Darabont on The Shawshank Redemption

Frank Darabont on The Shawshank Redemption

* A previously unpublished interview from the FILMdetail archives *

Back in 2004, I spoke with writer-director Frank Darabont about the 10th anniversary of The Shawshank Redemption (1994).

Whilst not an initial success, it gradually became one of the most beloved films of all time, consistently ranking at No. 1 on the Internet Movie Database.

Listen to the interview below, which was recorded in September 2014:

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> Buy the film on Blu-ray or DVD at Amazon UK
> Find out more about The Shawshank Redemption at Wikipedia
> Frank Darabont at the IMDb
> WSJ article on how The Shawshank Redemption keeps making money

Behind The Scenes Interesting

The Sound of Gravity

Skip Lievsay on the Sound of Gravity

The sound of Gravity is a crucial element of the film and in this Soundworks video director Alfonso Cuaron and Re-recording Mixer Skip Lievsay discuss how they (and the sound teams) created the dramatic soundscape of outer space.

SoundWorks Collection: The Sound of Gravity from Michael Coleman on Vimeo.

Gravity opens in the UK on November 8th

> Official site
> LFF 2013 review

Directors Interesting

John Landis on The Talking Room

John Landis on The Talking Room

The director John Landis recently sat down with Adam Savage of the Talking Room to discuss his life and career.

Over the course of an hour they discuss:

  • His break as a production assistant on Kelly’s Heroes (1978)
  • Working on Spaghetti Westerns in Spain
  • An American Werewolf in London (1981)
  • Animal House (1978)
  • Three Amigos (1987)
  • Make-up maestro Rick Baker
  • Meeting Stanley Kubrick
  • Paul McCartney’s song for Spies Like Us (1985)
  • Changes to the movie business

> John Landis at the IMDb
> Tested